Tag Archives: Security, Identity & Compliance

How to Delegate Administration of Your AWS Managed Microsoft AD Directory to Your On-Premises Active Directory Users

Post Syndicated from Vijay Sharma original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/how-to-delegate-administration-of-your-aws-managed-microsoft-ad-directory-to-your-on-premises-active-directory-users/

You can now enable your on-premises users administer your AWS Directory Service for Microsoft Active Directory, also known as AWS Managed Microsoft AD. Using an Active Directory (AD) trust and the new AWS delegated AD security groups, you can grant administrative permissions to your on-premises users by managing group membership in your on-premises AD directory. This simplifies how you manage who can perform administration. It also makes it easier for your administrators because they can sign in to their existing workstation with their on-premises AD credential to administer your AWS Managed Microsoft AD.

AWS created new domain local AD security groups (AWS delegated groups) in your AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory. Each AWS delegated group has unique AD administrative permissions. Users that are members in the new AWS delegated groups get permissions to perform administrative tasks, such as add users, configure fine-grained password policies and enable Microsoft enterprise Certificate Authority. Because the AWS delegated groups are domain local in scope, you can use them through an AD Trust to your on-premises AD. This eliminates the requirement to create and use separate identities to administer your AWS Managed Microsoft AD. Instead, by adding selected on-premises users to desired AWS delegated groups, you can grant your administrators some or all of the permissions. You can simplify this even further by adding on-premises AD security groups to the AWS delegated groups. This enables you to add and remove users from your on-premises AD security group so that they can manage administrative permissions in your AWS Managed Microsoft AD.

In this blog post, I will show you how to delegate permissions to your on-premises users to perform an administrative task–configuring fine-grained password policies–in your AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory. You can follow the steps in this post to delegate other administrative permissions, such as configuring group Managed Service Accounts and Kerberos constrained delegation, to your on-premises users.


Until now, AWS Managed Microsoft AD delegated administrative permissions for your directory by creating AD security groups in your Organization Unit (OU) and authorizing these AWS delegated groups for common administrative activities. The admin user in your directory created user accounts within your OU, and granted these users permissions to administer your directory by adding them to one or more of these AWS delegated groups.

However, if you used your AWS Managed Microsoft AD with a trust to an on-premises AD forest, you couldn’t add users from your on-premises directory to these AWS delegated groups. This is because AWS created the AWS delegated groups with global scope, which restricts adding users from another forest. This necessitated that you create different user accounts in AWS Managed Microsoft AD for the purpose of administration. As a result, AD administrators typically had to remember additional credentials for AWS Managed Microsoft AD.

To address this, AWS created new AWS delegated groups with domain local scope in a separate OU called AWS Delegated Groups. These new AWS delegated groups with domain local scope are more flexible and permit adding users and groups from other domains and forests. This allows your admin user to delegate your on-premises users and groups administrative permissions to your AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory.

Note: If you already have an existing AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory containing the original AWS delegated groups with global scope, AWS preserved the original AWS delegated groups in the event you are currently using them with identities in AWS Managed Microsoft AD. AWS recommends that you transition to use the new AWS delegated groups with domain local scope. All newly created AWS Managed Microsoft AD directories have the new AWS delegated groups with domain local scope only.

Now, I will show you the steps to delegate administrative permissions to your on-premises users and groups to configure fine-grained password policies in your AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory.


For this post, I assume you are familiar with AD security groups and how security group scope rules work. I also assume you are familiar with AD trusts.

The instructions in this blog post require you to have the following components running:

Solution overview

I will now show you how to manage which on-premises users have delegated permissions to administer your directory by efficiently using on-premises AD security groups to manage these permissions. I will do this by:

  1. Adding on-premises groups to an AWS delegated group. In this step, you sign in to management instance connected to AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory as admin user and add on-premises groups to AWS delegated groups.
  2. Administer your AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory as on-premises user. In this step, you sign in to a workstation connected to your on-premises AD using your on-premises credentials and administer your AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory.

For the purpose of this blog, I already have an on-premises AD directory (in this case, on-premises.com). I also created an AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory (in this case, corp.example.com) that I use with Amazon RDS for SQL Server. To enable Integrated Windows Authentication to my on-premises.com domain, I established a one-way outgoing trust from my AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory to my on-premises AD directory. To administer my AWS Managed Microsoft AD, I created an Amazon EC2 for Windows Server instance (in this case, Cloud Management). I also have an on-premises workstation (in this case, On-premises Management), that is connected to my on-premises AD directory.

The following diagram represents the relationships between the on-premises AD and the AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory.

The left side represents the AWS Cloud containing AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory. I connected the directory to the on-premises AD directory via a 1-way forest trust relationship. When AWS created my AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory, AWS created a group called AWS Delegated Fine Grained Password Policy Administrators that has permissions to configure fine-grained password policies in AWS Managed Microsoft AD.

The right side of the diagram represents the on-premises AD directory. I created a global AD security group called On-premises fine grained password policy admins and I configured it so all members can manage fine grained password policies in my on-premises AD. I have two administrators in my company, John and Richard, who I added as members of On-premises fine grained password policy admins. I want to enable John and Richard to also manage fine grained password policies in my AWS Managed Microsoft AD.

While I could add John and Richard to the AWS Delegated Fine Grained Password Policy Administrators individually, I want a more efficient way to delegate and remove permissions for on-premises users to manage fine grained password policies in my AWS Managed Microsoft AD. In fact, I want to assign permissions to the same people that manage password policies in my on-premises directory.

Diagram showing delegation of administrative permissions to on-premises users

To do this, I will:

  1. As admin user, add the On-premises fine grained password policy admins as member of the AWS Delegated Fine Grained Password Policy Administrators security group from my Cloud Management machine.
  2. Manage who can administer password policies in my AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory by adding and removing users as members of the On-premises fine grained password policy admins. Doing so enables me to perform all my delegation work in my on-premises directory without the need to use a remote desktop protocol (RDP) session to my Cloud Management instance. In this case, Richard, who is a member of On-premises fine grained password policy admins group can now administer AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory from On-premises Management workstation.

Although I’m showing a specific case using fine grained password policy delegation, you can do this with any of the new AWS delegated groups and your on-premises groups and users.

Let’s get started.

Step 1 – Add on-premises groups to AWS delegated groups

In this step, open an RDP session to the Cloud Management instance and sign in as the admin user in your AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory. Then, add your users and groups from your on-premises AD to AWS delegated groups in AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory. In this example, I do the following:

  1. Sign in to the Cloud Management instance with the user name admin and the password that you set for the admin user when you created your directory.
  2. Open the Microsoft Windows Server Manager and navigate to Tools > Active Directory Users and Computers.
  3. Switch to the tree view and navigate to corp.example.com > AWS Delegated Groups. Right-click AWS Delegated Fine Grained Password Policy Administrators and select Properties.
  4. In the AWS Delegated Fine Grained Password Policy window, switch to Members tab and choose Add.
  5. In the Select Users, Contacts, Computers, Service Accounts, or Groups window, choose Locations.
  6. In the Locations window, select on-premises.com domain and choose OK.
  7. In the Enter the object names to select box, enter on-premises fine grained password policy admins and choose Check Names.
  8. Because I have a 1-way trust from AWS Managed Microsoft AD to my on-premises AD, Windows prompts me to enter credentials for an on-premises user account that has permissions to complete the search. If I had a 2-way trust and the admin account in my AWS Managed Microsoft AD has permissions to read my on-premises directory, Windows will not prompt me.In the Windows Security window, enter the credentials for an account with permissions for on-premises.com and choose OK.
  9. Click OK to add On-premises fine grained password policy admins group as a member of the AWS Delegated Fine Grained Password Policy Administrators group in your AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory.

At this point, any user that is a member of On-premises fine grained password policy admins group has permissions to manage password policies in your AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory.

Step 2 – Administer your AWS Managed Microsoft AD as on-premises user

Any member of the on-premises group(s) that you added to an AWS delegated group inherited the permissions of the AWS delegated group.

In this example, Richard signs in to the On-premises Management instance. Because Richard inherited permissions from Delegated Fine Grained Password Policy Administrators, he can now administer fine grained password policies in the AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory using on-premises credentials.

  1. Sign in to the On-premises Management instance as Richard.
  2. Open the Microsoft Windows Server Manager and navigate to Tools > Active Directory Users and Computers.
  3. Switch to the tree view, right-click Active Directory Users and Computers, and then select Change Domain.
  4. In the Change Domain window, enter corp.example.com, and then choose OK.
  5. You’ll be connected to your AWS Managed Microsoft AD domain:

Richard can now administer the password policies. Because John is also a member of the AWS delegated group, John can also perform password policy administration the same way.

In future, if Richard moves to another division within the company and you hire Judy as a replacement for Richard, you can simply remove Richard from On-premises fine grained password policy admins group and add Judy to this group. Richard will no longer have administrative permissions, while Judy can now administer password policies for your AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory.


We’ve tried to make it easier for you to administer your AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory by creating AWS delegated groups with domain local scope. You can add your on-premises AD groups to the AWS delegated groups. You can then control who can administer your directory by managing group membership in your on-premises AD directory. Your administrators can sign in to their existing on-premises workstations using their on-premises credentials and administer your AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory. I encourage you to explore the new AWS delegated security groups by using Active Directory Users and Computers from the management instance for your AWS Managed Microsoft AD. To learn more about AWS Directory Service, see the AWS Directory Service home page. If you have questions, please post them on the Directory Service forum. If you have comments about this post, submit them in the “Comments” section below.


Join Us for AWS Security Week February 20–23 in San Francisco!

Post Syndicated from Craig Liebendorfer original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/join-us-for-aws-security-week-february-20-23-in-san-francisco/

AWS Pop-up Loft image

Join us for AWS Security Week, February 20–23 at the AWS Pop-up Loft in San Francisco, where you can participate in four days of themed content that will help you secure your workloads on AWS. Each day will highlight a different security and compliance topic, and will include an overview session, a customer or partner speaker, a deep dive into the day’s topic, and a hands-on lab or demos of relevant AWS or partner services.

Tuesday (February 20) will kick off the week with a day devoted to identity and governance. On Wednesday, we will dig into secure configuration and automation, including a discussion about upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements. On Thursday, we will cover threat detection and remediation, which will include an Amazon GuardDuty lab. And on Friday, we will discuss incident response on AWS.

Sessions, demos, and labs about each of these topics will be led by seasoned security professionals from AWS, who will help you understand not just the basics, but also the nuances of building applications in the AWS Cloud in a robust and secure manner. AWS subject-matter experts will be available for “Ask the Experts” sessions during breaks.

Register today!

– Craig

Validate Your IT Security Expertise with the New AWS Certified Security – Specialty Beta Exam

Post Syndicated from Sara Snedeker original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/validate-your-it-security-expertise-with-the-new-aws-certified-security-specialty-beta-exam/

AWS Training and Certification image

If you are an experienced cloud security professional, you can demonstrate and validate your expertise with the new AWS Certified Security – Specialty beta exam. This exam allows you to demonstrate your knowledge of incident response, logging and monitoring, infrastructure security, identity and access management, and data protection. Register today – this beta exam will be available only from January 15 to March 2, 2018.

By taking this exam, you can validate your:

  • Familiarity with region-specific and country-specific security and compliance regulations and meta issues that these regulations include.
  • Understanding of data encryption methods and secure internet protocols, and the AWS mechanisms to implement them.
  • Working knowledge of AWS security services to provide a secure production environment.
  • Ability to make trade-off decisions with regard to cost, security, and deployment complexity when given a set of application requirements.

See the full list of security knowledge you can validate by taking this beta exam.

Who is eligible?

The beta exam is open to anyone who currently holds an AWS Associate or Cloud Practitioner certification. We recommend candidates have five years of IT security experience designing and implementing security solutions, and at least two years of hands-on experience securing AWS workloads.

How to prepare

You can take the following courses and use AWS cloud security resources and compliance resources to prepare for this exam.

AWS Security Fundamentals (digital, 3 hours)
This digital course introduces you to fundamental cloud computing and AWS security concepts, including AWS access control and management, governance, logging, and encryption methods. It also covers security-related compliance protocols and risk management strategies, as well as procedures related to auditing your AWS security infrastructure.

Security Operations on AWS (classroom, 3 days)
This instructor-led course demonstrates how to efficiently use AWS security services to help stay secure and compliant in the AWS Cloud. The course focuses on the AWS-recommended security best practices that you can implement to enhance the security of your AWS resources. The course highlights the security features of AWS compute, storage, networking, and database services.

If you have questions about this new beta exam, contact us.

Good luck with the exam!

– Sara

AWS Online Tech Talks – January 2018

Post Syndicated from Ana Visneski original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/aws-online-tech-talks-january-2018/

Happy New Year! Kick of 2018 right by expanding your AWS knowledge with a great batch of new Tech Talks. We’re covering some of the biggest launches from re:Invent including Amazon Neptune, Amazon Rekognition Video, AWS Fargate, AWS Cloud9, Amazon Kinesis Video Streams, AWS PrivateLink, AWS Single-Sign On and more!

January 2018– Schedule

Noted below are the upcoming scheduled live, online technical sessions being held during the month of January. Make sure to register ahead of time so you won’t miss out on these free talks conducted by AWS subject matter experts.

Webinars featured this month are:

Monday January 22

Analytics & Big Data
11:00 AM – 11:45 AM PT Analyze your Data Lake, Fast @ Any Scale  Lvl 300

01:00 PM – 01:45 PM PT Deep Dive on Amazon Neptune Lvl 200

Tuesday, January 23

Artificial Intelligence
9:00 AM – 09:45 AM PT  How to get the most out of Amazon Rekognition Video, a deep learning based video analysis service Lvl 300


11:00 AM – 11:45 AM Introducing AWS Fargate Lvl 200

01:00 PM – 02:00 PM PT Overview of Serverless Application Deployment Patterns Lvl 400

Wednesday, January 24

09:00 AM – 09:45 AM PT Introducing AWS Cloud9  Lvl 200

Analytics & Big Data
11:00 AM – 11:45 AM PT Deep Dive: Amazon Kinesis Video Streams
Lvl 300
01:00 PM – 01:45 PM PT Introducing Amazon Aurora with PostgreSQL Compatibility Lvl 200

Thursday, January 25

Artificial Intelligence
09:00 AM – 09:45 AM PT Introducing Amazon SageMaker Lvl 200

11:00 AM – 11:45 AM PT Ionic and React Hybrid Web/Native Mobile Applications with Mobile Hub Lvl 200

01:00 PM – 01:45 PM PT Connected Product Development: Secure Cloud & Local Connectivity for Microcontroller-based Devices Lvl 200

Monday, January 29

11:00 AM – 11:45 AM PT Enterprise Solutions Best Practices 100 Achieving Business Value with AWS Lvl 100

01:00 PM – 01:45 PM PT Introduction to Amazon Lightsail Lvl 200

Tuesday, January 30

Security, Identity & Compliance
09:00 AM – 09:45 AM PT Introducing Managed Rules for AWS WAF Lvl 200

11:00 AM – 11:45 AM PT  Improving Backup & DR – AWS Storage Gateway Lvl 300

01:00 PM – 01:45 PM PT  Introducing the New Simplified Access Model for EC2 Spot Instances Lvl 200

Wednesday, January 31

09:00 AM – 09:45 AM PT  Deep Dive on AWS PrivateLink Lvl 300

11:00 AM – 11:45 AM PT Preparing Your Team for a Cloud Transformation Lvl 200

01:00 PM – 01:45 PM PT  The Nitro Project: Next-Generation EC2 Infrastructure Lvl 300

Thursday, February 1

Security, Identity & Compliance
09:00 AM – 09:45 AM PT  Deep Dive on AWS Single Sign-On Lvl 300

11:00 AM – 11:45 AM PT How to Build a Data Lake in Amazon S3 & Amazon Glacier Lvl 300

The Top 10 Most Downloaded AWS Security and Compliance Documents in 2017

Post Syndicated from Sara Duffer original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/the-top-10-most-downloaded-aws-security-and-compliance-documents-in-2017/

AWS download logo

The following list includes the ten most downloaded AWS security and compliance documents in 2017. Using this list, you can learn about what other AWS customers found most interesting about security and compliance last year.

  1. AWS Security Best Practices – This guide is intended for customers who are designing the security infrastructure and configuration for applications running on AWS. The guide provides security best practices that will help you define your Information Security Management System (ISMS) and build a set of security policies and processes for your organization so that you can protect your data and assets in the AWS Cloud.
  2. AWS: Overview of Security Processes – This whitepaper describes the physical and operational security processes for the AWS managed network and infrastructure, and helps answer questions such as, “How does AWS help me protect my data?”
  3. Architecting for HIPAA Security and Compliance on AWS – This whitepaper describes how to leverage AWS to develop applications that meet HIPAA and HITECH compliance requirements.
  4. Service Organization Controls (SOC) 3 Report – This publicly available report describes internal AWS security controls, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy.
  5. Introduction to AWS Security –This document provides an introduction to AWS’s approach to security, including the controls in the AWS environment, and some of the products and features that AWS makes available to customers to meet your security objectives.
  6. AWS Best Practices for DDoS Resiliency – This whitepaper covers techniques to mitigate distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.
  7. AWS: Risk and Compliance – This whitepaper provides information to help customers integrate AWS into their existing control framework, including a basic approach for evaluating AWS controls and a description of AWS certifications, programs, reports, and third-party attestations.
  8. Use AWS WAF to Mitigate OWASP’s Top 10 Web Application Vulnerabilities – AWS WAF is a web application firewall that helps you protect your websites and web applications against various attack vectors at the HTTP protocol level. This whitepaper outlines how you can use AWS WAF to mitigate the application vulnerabilities that are defined in the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) Top 10 list of most common categories of application security flaws.
  9. Introduction to Auditing the Use of AWS – This whitepaper provides information, tools, and approaches for auditors to use when auditing the security of the AWS managed network and infrastructure.
  10. AWS Security and Compliance: Quick Reference Guide – By using AWS, you inherit the many security controls that we operate, thus reducing the number of security controls that you need to maintain. Your own compliance and certification programs are strengthened while at the same time lowering your cost to maintain and run your specific security assurance requirements. Learn more in this quick reference guide.

– Sara

Glenn’s Take on re:Invent 2017 Part 1

Post Syndicated from Glenn Gore original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/architecture/glenns-take-on-reinvent-2017-part-1/


Glenn Gore here, Chief Architect for AWS. I’m in Las Vegas this week — with 43K others — for re:Invent 2017. We have a lot of exciting announcements this week. I’m going to post to the AWS Architecture blog each day with my take on what’s interesting about some of the announcements from a cloud architectural perspective.

Why not start at the beginning? At the Midnight Madness launch on Sunday night, we announced Amazon Sumerian, our platform for VR, AR, and mixed reality. The hype around VR/AR has existed for many years, though for me, it is a perfect example of how a working end-to-end solution often requires innovation from multiple sources. For AR/VR to be successful, we need many components to come together in a coherent manner to provide a great experience.

First, we need lightweight, high-definition goggles with motion tracking that are comfortable to wear. Second, we need to track movement of our body and hands in a 3-D space so that we can interact with virtual objects in the virtual world. Third, we need to build the virtual world itself and populate it with assets and define how the interactions will work and connect with various other systems.

There has been rapid development of the physical devices for AR/VR, ranging from iOS devices to Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, which provide excellent capabilities for the first and second components defined above. With the launch of Amazon Sumerian we are solving for the third area, which will help developers easily build their own virtual worlds and start experimenting and innovating with how to apply AR/VR in new ways.

Already, within 48 hours of Amazon Sumerian being announced, I have had multiple discussions with customers and partners around some cool use cases where VR can help in training simulations, remote-operator controls, or with new ideas around interacting with complex visual data sets, which starts bringing concepts straight out of sci-fi movies into the real (virtual) world. I am really excited to see how Sumerian will unlock the creative potential of developers and where this will lead.

Amazon MQ
I am a huge fan of distributed architectures where asynchronous messaging is the backbone of connecting the discrete components together. Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS) is one of my favorite services due to its simplicity, scalability, performance, and the incredible flexibility of how you can use Amazon SQS in so many different ways to solve complex queuing scenarios.

While Amazon SQS is easy to use when building cloud-native applications on AWS, many of our customers running existing applications on-premises required support for different messaging protocols such as: Java Message Service (JMS), .Net Messaging Service (NMS), Advanced Message Queuing Protocol (AMQP), MQ Telemetry Transport (MQTT), Simple (or Streaming) Text Orientated Messaging Protocol (STOMP), and WebSockets. One of the most popular applications for on-premise message brokers is Apache ActiveMQ. With the release of Amazon MQ, you can now run Apache ActiveMQ on AWS as a managed service similar to what we did with Amazon ElastiCache back in 2012. For me, there are two compelling, major benefits that Amazon MQ provides:

  • Integrate existing applications with cloud-native applications without having to change a line of application code if using one of the supported messaging protocols. This removes one of the biggest blockers for integration between the old and the new.
  • Remove the complexity of configuring Multi-AZ resilient message broker services as Amazon MQ provides out-of-the-box redundancy by always storing messages redundantly across Availability Zones. Protection is provided against failure of a broker through to complete failure of an Availability Zone.

I believe that Amazon MQ is a major component in the tools required to help you migrate your existing applications to AWS. Having set up cross-data center Apache ActiveMQ clusters in the past myself and then testing to ensure they work as expected during critical failure scenarios, technical staff working on migrations to AWS benefit from the ease of deploying a fully redundant, managed Apache ActiveMQ cluster within minutes.

Who would have thought I would have been so excited to revisit Apache ActiveMQ in 2017 after using SQS for many, many years? Choice is a wonderful thing.

Amazon GuardDuty
Maintaining application and information security in the modern world is increasingly complex and is constantly evolving and changing as new threats emerge. This is due to the scale, variety, and distribution of services required in a competitive online world.

At Amazon, security is our number one priority. Thus, we are always looking at how we can increase security detection and protection while simplifying the implementation of advanced security practices for our customers. As a result, we released Amazon GuardDuty, which provides intelligent threat detection by using a combination of multiple information sources, transactional telemetry, and the application of machine learning models developed by AWS. One of the biggest benefits of Amazon GuardDuty that I appreciate is that enabling this service requires zero software, agents, sensors, or network choke points. which can all impact performance or reliability of the service you are trying to protect. Amazon GuardDuty works by monitoring your VPC flow logs, AWS CloudTrail events, DNS logs, as well as combing other sources of security threats that AWS is aggregating from our own internal and external sources.

The use of machine learning in Amazon GuardDuty allows it to identify changes in behavior, which could be suspicious and require additional investigation. Amazon GuardDuty works across all of your AWS accounts allowing for an aggregated analysis and ensuring centralized management of detected threats across accounts. This is important for our larger customers who can be running many hundreds of AWS accounts across their organization, as providing a single common threat detection of their organizational use of AWS is critical to ensuring they are protecting themselves.

Detection, though, is only the beginning of what Amazon GuardDuty enables. When a threat is identified in Amazon GuardDuty, you can configure remediation scripts or trigger Lambda functions where you have custom responses that enable you to start building automated responses to a variety of different common threats. Speed of response is required when a security incident may be taking place. For example, Amazon GuardDuty detects that an Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instance might be compromised due to traffic from a known set of malicious IP addresses. Upon detection of a compromised EC2 instance, we could apply an access control entry restricting outbound traffic for that instance, which stops loss of data until a security engineer can assess what has occurred.

Whether you are a customer running a single service in a single account, or a global customer with hundreds of accounts with thousands of applications, or a startup with hundreds of micro-services with hourly release cycle in a devops world, I recommend enabling Amazon GuardDuty. We have a 30-day free trial available for all new customers of this service. As it is a monitor of events, there is no change required to your architecture within AWS.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post on AWS Media Services and Amazon Neptune.


Glenn during the Tour du Mont Blanc

Amazon GuardDuty – Continuous Security Monitoring & Threat Detection

Post Syndicated from Jeff Barr original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/amazon-guardduty-continuous-security-monitoring-threat-detection/

Threats to your IT infrastructure (AWS accounts & credentials, AWS resources, guest operating systems, and applications) come in all shapes and sizes! The online world can be a treacherous place and we want to make sure that you have the tools, knowledge, and perspective to keep your IT infrastructure safe & sound.

Amazon GuardDuty is designed to give you just that. Informed by a multitude of public and AWS-generated data feeds and powered by machine learning, GuardDuty analyzes billions of events in pursuit of trends, patterns, and anomalies that are recognizable signs that something is amiss. You can enable it with a click and see the first findings within minutes.

How it Works
GuardDuty voraciously consumes multiple data streams, including several threat intelligence feeds, staying aware of malicious IP addresses, devious domains, and more importantly, learning to accurately identify malicious or unauthorized behavior in your AWS accounts. In combination with information gleaned from your VPC Flow Logs, AWS CloudTrail Event Logs, and DNS logs, this allows GuardDuty to detect many different types of dangerous and mischievous behavior including probes for known vulnerabilities, port scans and probes, and access from unusual locations. On the AWS side, it looks for suspicious AWS account activity such as unauthorized deployments, unusual CloudTrail activity, patterns of access to AWS API functions, and attempts to exceed multiple service limits. GuardDuty will also look for compromised EC2 instances talking to malicious entities or services, data exfiltration attempts, and instances that are mining cryptocurrency.

GuardDuty operates completely on AWS infrastructure and does not affect the performance or reliability of your workloads. You do not need to install or manage any agents, sensors, or network appliances. This clean, zero-footprint model should appeal to your security team and allow them to green-light the use of GuardDuty across all of your AWS accounts.

Findings are presented to you at one of three levels (low, medium, or high), accompanied by detailed evidence and recommendations for remediation. The findings are also available as Amazon CloudWatch Events; this allows you to use your own AWS Lambda functions to automatically remediate specific types of issues. This mechanism also allows you to easily push GuardDuty findings into event management systems such as Splunk, Sumo Logic, and PagerDuty and to workflow systems like JIRA, ServiceNow, and Slack.

A Quick Tour
Let’s take a quick tour. I open up the GuardDuty Console and click on Get started:

Then I confirm that I want to enable GuardDuty. This gives it permission to set up the appropriate service-linked roles and to analyze my logs by clicking on Enable GuardDuty:

My own AWS environment isn’t all that exciting, so I visit the General Settings and click on Generate sample findings to move ahead. Now I’ve got some intriguing findings:

I can click on a finding to learn more:

The magnifying glass icons allow me to create inclusion or exclusion filters for the associated resource, action, or other value. I can filter for all of the findings related to this instance:

I can customize GuardDuty by adding lists of trusted IP addresses and lists of malicious IP addresses that are peculiar to my environment:

After I enable GuardDuty in my administrator account, I can invite my other accounts to participate:

Once the accounts decide to participate, GuardDuty will arrange for their findings to be shared with the administrator account.

I’ve barely scratched the surface of GuardDuty in the limited space and time that I have. You can try it out at no charge for 30 days; after that you pay based on the number of entries it processes from your VPC Flow, CloudTrail, and DNS logs.

Available Now
Amazon GuardDuty is available in production form in the US East (Northern Virginia), US East (Ohio), US West (Oregon), US West (Northern California), EU (Ireland), EU (Frankfurt), EU (London), South America (São Paulo), Canada (Central), Asia Pacific (Tokyo), Asia Pacific (Seoul), Asia Pacific (Singapore), Asia Pacific (Sydney), and Asia Pacific (Mumbai) Regions and you can start using it today!


Serverless Automated Cost Controls, Part1

Post Syndicated from Shankar Ramachandran original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/compute/serverless-automated-cost-controls-part1/

This post courtesy of Shankar Ramachandran, Pubali Sen, and George Mao

In line with AWS’s continual efforts to reduce costs for customers, this series focuses on how customers can build serverless automated cost controls. This post provides an architecture blueprint and a sample implementation to prevent budget overruns.

This solution uses the following AWS products:

  • AWS Budgets – An AWS Cost Management tool that helps customers define and track budgets for AWS costs, and forecast for up to three months.
  • Amazon SNS – An AWS service that makes it easy to set up, operate, and send notifications from the cloud.
  • AWS Lambda – An AWS service that lets you run code without provisioning or managing servers.

You can fine-tune a budget for various parameters, for example filtering by service or tag. The Budgets tool lets you post notifications on an SNS topic. A Lambda function that subscribes to the SNS topic can act on the notification. Any programmatically implementable action can be taken.

The diagram below describes the architecture blueprint.

In this post, we describe how to use this blueprint with AWS Step Functions and IAM to effectively revoke the ability of a user to start new Amazon EC2 instances, after a budget amount is exceeded.

Freedom with guardrails

AWS lets you quickly spin up resources as you need them, deploying hundreds or even thousands of servers in minutes. This means you can quickly develop and roll out new applications. Teams can experiment and innovate more quickly and frequently. If an experiment fails, you can always de-provision those servers without risk.

This improved agility also brings in the need for effective cost controls. Your Finance and Accounting department must budget, monitor, and control the AWS spend. For example, this could be a budget per project. Further, Finance and Accounting must take appropriate actions if the budget for the project has been exceeded, for example. Call it “freedom with guardrails” – where Finance wants to give developers freedom, but with financial constraints.


This section describes how to use the blueprint introduced earlier to implement a “freedom with guardrails” solution.

  1. The budget for “Project Beta” is set up in Budgets. In this example, we focus on EC2 usage and identify the instances that belong to this project by filtering on the tag Project with the value Beta. For more information, see Creating a Budget.
  2. The budget configuration also includes settings to send a notification on an SNS topic when the usage exceeds 100% of the budgeted amount. For more information, see Creating an Amazon SNS Topic for Budget Notifications.
  3. The master Lambda function receives the SNS notification.
  4. It triggers execution of a Step Functions state machine with the parameters for completing the configured action.
  5. The action Lambda function is triggered as a task in the state machine. The function interacts with IAM to effectively remove the user’s permissions to create an EC2 instance.

This decoupled modular design allows for extensibility.  New actions (serially or in parallel) can be added by simply adding new steps.

Implementing the solution

All the instructions and code needed to implement the architecture have been posted on the Serverless Automated Cost Controls GitHub repo. We recommend that you try this first in a Dev/Test environment.

This implementation description can be broken down into two parts:

  1. Create a solution stack for serverless automated cost controls.
  2. Verify the solution by testing the EC2 fleet.

To tie this back to the “freedom with guardrails” scenario, the Finance department performs a one-time implementation of the solution stack. To simulate resources for Project Beta, the developers spin up the test EC2 fleet.


There are two prerequisites:

  • Make sure that you have the necessary IAM permissions. For more information, see the section titled “Required IAM permissions” in the README.
  • Define and activate a cost allocation tag with the key Project. For more information, see Using Cost Allocation Tags. It can take up to 12 hours for the tags to propagate to Budgets.

Create resources

The solution stack includes creating the following resources:

  • Three Lambda functions
  • One Step Functions state machine
  • One SNS topic
  • One IAM group
  • One IAM user
  • IAM policies as needed
  • One budget

Two of the Lambda functions were described in the previous section, to a) receive the SNS notification and b) trigger the Step Functions state machine. Another Lambda function is used to create the budget, as a custom AWS CloudFormation resource. The SNS topic connects Budgets with Lambda function A. Lambda function B is configured as a task in Step Functions. A budget for $2 is created which is filtered by Service: EC2 and Tag: Project, Beta. A test IAM group and user is created to enable you to validate this Cost Control Solution.

To create the serverless automated cost control solution stack, choose the button below. It takes few minutes to spin up the stack. You can monitor the progress in the CloudFormation console.

When you see the CREATE_COMPLETE status for the stack you had created, choose Outputs. Copy the following four values that you need later:

  • TemplateURL
  • UserName
  • SignInURL
  • Password

Verify the stack

The next step is to verify the serverless automated cost controls solution stack that you just created. To do this, spin up an EC2 fleet of t2.micro instances, representative of the resources needed for Project Beta, and tag them with Project, Beta.

  1. Browse to the SignInURL, and log in using the UserName and Password values copied on from the stack output.
  2. In the CloudFormation console, choose Create Stack.
  3. For Choose a template, select Choose an Amazon S3 template URL and paste the TemplateURL value from the preceding section. Choose Next.
  4. Give this stack a name, such as “testEc2FleetForProjectBeta”. Choose Next.
  5. On the Specify Details page, enter parameters such as the UserName and Password copied in the previous section. Choose Next.
  6. Ignore any errors related to listing IAM roles. The test user has a minimal set of permissions that is just sufficient to spin up this test stack (in line with security best practices).
  7. On the Options page, choose Next.
  8. On the Review page, choose Create. It takes a few minutes to spin up the stack, and you can monitor the progress in the CloudFormation console. 
  9. When you see the status “CREATE_COMPLETE”, open the EC2 console to verify that four t2.micro instances have been spun up, with the tag of Project, Beta.

The hourly cost for these instances depends on the region in which they are running. On the average (irrespective of the region), you can expect the aggregate cost for this EC2 fleet to exceed the set $2 budget in 48 hours.

Verify the solution

The first step is to identify the test IAM group that was created in the previous section. The group should have “projectBeta” in the name, prepended with the CloudFormation stack name and appended with an alphanumeric string. Verify that the managed policy associated is: “EC2FullAccess”, which indicates that the users in this group have unrestricted access to EC2.

There are two stages of verification for this serverless automated cost controls solution: simulating a notification and waiting for a breach.

Simulated notification

Because it takes at least a few hours for the aggregate cost of the EC2 fleet to breach the set budget, you can verify the solution by simulating the notification from Budgets.

  1. Log in to the SNS console (using your regular AWS credentials).
  2. Publish a message on the SNS topic that has “budgetNotificationTopic” in the name. The complete name is appended by the CloudFormation stack identifier.  
  3. Copy the following text as the body of the notification: “This is a mock notification”.
  4. Choose Publish.
  5. Open the IAM console to verify that the policy for the test group has been switched to “EC2ReadOnly”. This prevents users in this group from creating new instances.
  6. Verify that the test user created in the previous section cannot spin up new EC2 instances.  You can log in as the test user and try creating a new EC2 instance (via the same CloudFormation stack or the EC2 console). You should get an error message indicating that you do not have the necessary permissions.
  7. If you are proceeding to stage 2 of the verification, then you must switch the permissions back to “EC2FullAccess” for the test group, which can be done in the IAM console.

Automatic notification

Within 48 hours, the aggregate cost of the EC2 fleet spun up in the earlier section breaches the budget rule and triggers an automatic notification. This results in the permissions getting switched out, just as in the simulated notification.

Clean up

Use the following steps to delete your resources and stop incurring costs.

  1. Open the CloudFormation console.
  2. Delete the EC2 fleet by deleting the appropriate stack (for example, delete the stack named “testEc2FleetForProjectBeta”).                                               
  3. Next, delete the “costControlStack” stack.                                                                                                                                                    


Using Lambda in tandem with Budgets, you can build Serverless automated cost controls on AWS. Find all the resources (instructions, code) for implementing the solution discussed in this post on the Serverless Automated Cost Controls GitHub repo.

Stay tuned to this series for more tips about building serverless automated cost controls. In the next post, we discuss using smart lighting to influence developer behavior and describe a solution to encourage cost-aware development practices.

If you have questions or suggestions, please comment below.


AWS Achieves FedRAMP JAB Moderate Provisional Authorization for 20 Services in the AWS US East/West Region

Post Syndicated from Chris Gile original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/aws-achieves-fedramp-jab-moderate-authorization-for-20-services-in-us-eastwest/

The AWS US East/West Region has received a Provisional Authority to Operate (P-ATO) from the Joint Authorization Board (JAB) at the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) Moderate baseline.

Though AWS has maintained an AWS US East/West Region Agency-ATO since early 2013, this announcement represents AWS’s carefully deliberated move to the JAB for the centralized maintenance of our P-ATO for 10 services already authorized. This also includes the addition of 10 new services to our FedRAMP program (see the complete list of services below). This doubles the number of FedRAMP Moderate services available to our customers to enable increased use of the cloud and support modernized IT missions. Our public sector customers now can leverage this FedRAMP P-ATO as a baseline for their own authorizations and look to the JAB for centralized Continuous Monitoring reporting and updates. In a significant enhancement for our partners that build their solutions on the AWS US East/West Region, they can now achieve FedRAMP JAB P-ATOs of their own for their Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings.

In line with FedRAMP security requirements, our independent FedRAMP assessment was completed in partnership with a FedRAMP accredited Third Party Assessment Organization (3PAO) on our technical, management, and operational security controls to validate that they meet or exceed FedRAMP’s Moderate baseline requirements. Effective immediately, you can begin leveraging this P-ATO for the following 20 services in the AWS US East/West Region:

  • Amazon Aurora (MySQL)*
  • Amazon CloudWatch Logs*
  • Amazon DynamoDB
  • Amazon Elastic Block Store
  • Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud
  • Amazon EMR*
  • Amazon Glacier*
  • Amazon Kinesis Streams*
  • Amazon RDS (MySQL, Oracle, Postgres*)
  • Amazon Redshift
  • Amazon Simple Notification Service*
  • Amazon Simple Queue Service*
  • Amazon Simple Storage Service
  • Amazon Simple Workflow Service*
  • Amazon Virtual Private Cloud
  • AWS CloudFormation*
  • AWS CloudTrail*
  • AWS Identity and Access Management
  • AWS Key Management Service
  • Elastic Load Balancing

* Services with first-time FedRAMP Moderate authorizations

We continue to work with the FedRAMP Project Management Office (PMO), other regulatory and compliance bodies, and our customers and partners to ensure that we are raising the bar on our customers’ security and compliance needs.

To learn more about how AWS helps customers meet their security and compliance requirements, see the AWS Compliance website. To learn about what other public sector customers are doing on AWS, see our Government, Education, and Nonprofits Case Studies and Customer Success Stories. To review the public posting of our FedRAMP authorizations, see the FedRAMP Marketplace.

– Chris Gile, Senior Manager, AWS Public Sector Risk and Compliance

AWS Online Tech Talks – November 2017

Post Syndicated from Sara Rodas original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/aws-online-tech-talks-november-2017/

Leaves are crunching under my boots, Halloween is tomorrow, and pumpkin is having its annual moment in the sun – it’s fall everybody! And just in time to celebrate, we have whipped up a fresh batch of pumpkin spice Tech Talks. Grab your planner (Outlook calendar) and pencil these puppies in. This month we are covering re:Invent, serverless, and everything in between.

November 2017 – Schedule

Noted below are the upcoming scheduled live, online technical sessions being held during the month of November. Make sure to register ahead of time so you won’t miss out on these free talks conducted by AWS subject matter experts.

Webinars featured this month are:

Monday, November 6


9:00 – 9:40 AM PDT: Set it and Forget it: Auto Scaling Target Tracking Policies

Tuesday, November 7

Big Data

9:00 – 9:40 AM PDT: Real-time Application Monitoring with Amazon Kinesis and Amazon CloudWatch


10:30 – 11:10 AM PDT: Simplify Microsoft Windows Server Management with Amazon Lightsail


12:00 – 12:40 PM PDT: Deep Dive on Amazon SES What’s New

Wednesday, November 8


10:30 – 11:10 AM PDT: Migrating Your Oracle Database to PostgreSQL


12:00 – 12:40 PM PDT: Run Your CI/CD Pipeline at Scale for a Fraction of the Cost

Thursday, November 9


10:30 – 11:10 AM PDT: Migrating Your Oracle Database to PostgreSQL


9:00 – 9:40 AM PDT: Managing Container Images with Amazon ECR

Big Data

12:00 – 12:40 PM PDT: Amazon Elasticsearch Service Security Deep Dive

Monday, November 13


10:30 – 11:10 AM PDT: AWS re:Invent 2017: Know Before You Go

5:00 – 5:40 PM PDT: AWS re:Invent 2017: Know Before You Go

Tuesday, November 14


9:00 – 9:40 AM PDT: Sentiment Analysis Using Apache MXNet and Gluon

10:30 – 11:10 AM PDT: Bringing Characters to Life with Amazon Polly Text-to-Speech


12:00 – 12:40 PM PDT: Essential Capabilities of an IoT Cloud Platform


2:00 – 2:40 PM PDT: Everything you wanted to know about licensing Windows workloads on AWS, but were afraid to ask

Wednesday, November 15

Security & Identity

9:00 – 9:40 AM PDT: How to Integrate AWS Directory Service with Office365


10:30 – 11:10 AM PDT: Disaster Recovery Options with AWS

Hands on Lab

12:30 – 2:00 PM PDT: Hands on Lab: Windows Workloads

Thursday, November 16


9:00 – 9:40 AM PDT: Building Serverless Websites with [email protected]

Hands on Lab

12:30 – 2:00 PM PDT: Hands on Lab: Deploy .NET Code to AWS from Visual Studio

– Sara

Automating Security Group Updates with AWS Lambda

Post Syndicated from Ian Scofield original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/compute/automating-security-group-updates-with-aws-lambda/

Customers often use public endpoints to perform cross-region replication or other application layer communication to remote regions. But a common problem is how do you protect these endpoints? It can be tempting to open up the security groups to the world due to the complexity of keeping security groups in sync across regions with a dynamically changing infrastructure.

Consider a situation where you are running large clusters of instances in different regions that all require internode connectivity. One approach would be to use a VPN tunnel between regions to provide a secure tunnel over which to send your traffic. A good example of this is the Transit VPC Solution, which is a published AWS solution to help customers quickly get up and running. However, this adds additional cost and complexity to your solution due to the newly required additional infrastructure.

Another approach, which I’ll explore in this post, is to restrict access to the nodes by whitelisting the public IP addresses of your hosts in the opposite region. Today, I’ll outline a solution that allows for cross-region security group updates, can handle remote region failures, and supports external actions such as manually terminating instances or adding instances to an existing Auto Scaling group.

Solution overview

The overview of this solution is diagrammed below. Although this post covers limiting access to your instances, you should still implement encryption to protect your data in transit.

If your entire infrastructure is running in a single region, you can reference a security group as the source, allowing your IP addresses to change without any updates required. However, if you’re going across the public internet between regions to perform things like application-level traffic or cross-region replication, this is no longer an option. Security groups are regional. When you go across regions it can be tempting to drop security to enable this communication.

Although using an Elastic IP address can provide you with a static IP address that you can define as a source for your security groups, this may not always be feasible, especially when automatic scaling is desired.

In this example scenario, you have a distributed database that requires full internode communication for replication. If you place a cluster in us-east-1 and us-west-2, you must provide a secure method of communication between the two. Because the database uses cloud best practices, you can add or remove nodes as the load varies.

To start the process of updating your security groups, you must know when an instance has come online to trigger your workflow. Auto Scaling groups have the concept of lifecycle hooks that enable you to perform custom actions as the group launches or terminates instances.

When Auto Scaling begins to launch or terminate an instance, it puts the instance into a wait state (Pending:Wait or Terminating:Wait). The instance remains in this state while you perform your various actions until either you tell Auto Scaling to Continue, Abandon, or the timeout period ends. A lifecycle hook can trigger a CloudWatch event, publish to an Amazon SNS topic, or send to an Amazon SQS queue. For this example, you use CloudWatch Events to trigger an AWS Lambda function that updates an Amazon DynamoDB table.

Component breakdown

Here’s a quick breakdown of the components involved in this solution:

• Lambda function
• CloudWatch event
• DynamoDB table

Lambda function

The Lambda function automatically updates your security groups, in the following way:

1. Determines whether a change was triggered by your Auto Scaling group lifecycle hook or manually invoked for a “true up” functionality, which I discuss later in this post.
2. Describes the instances in the Auto Scaling group and obtain public IP addresses for each instance.
3. Updates both local and remote DynamoDB tables.
4. Compares the list of public IP addresses for both local and remote clusters with what’s already in the local region security group. Update the security group.
5. Compares the list of public IP addresses for both local and remote clusters with what’s already in the remote region security group. Update the security group
6. Signals CONTINUE back to the lifecycle hook.

CloudWatch event

The CloudWatch event triggers when an instance passes through either the launching or terminating states. When the Lambda function gets invoked, it receives an event that looks like the following:

	"account": "123456789012",
	"region": "us-east-1",
	"detail": {
		"LifecycleHookName": "hook-launching",
		"AutoScalingGroupName": "",
		"LifecycleActionToken": "33965228-086a-4aeb-8c26-f82ed3bef495",
		"LifecycleTransition": "autoscaling:EC2_INSTANCE_LAUNCHING",
		"EC2InstanceId": "i-017425ec54f22f994"
	"detail-type": "EC2 Instance-launch Lifecycle Action",
	"source": "aws.autoscaling",
	"version": "0",
	"time": "2017-05-03T02:20:59Z",
	"id": "cb930cf8-ce8b-4b6c-8011-af17966eb7e2",
	"resources": [

DynamoDB table

You use DynamoDB to store lists of remote IP addresses in a local table that is updated by the opposite region as a failsafe source of truth. Although you can describe your Auto Scaling group for the local region, you must maintain a list of IP addresses for the remote region.

To minimize the number of describe calls and prevent an issue in the remote region from blocking your local scaling actions, we keep a list of the remote IP addresses in a local DynamoDB table. Each Lambda function in each region is responsible for updating the public IP addresses of its Auto Scaling group for both the local and remote tables.

As with all the infrastructure in this solution, there is a DynamoDB table in both regions that mirror each other. For example, the following screenshot shows a sample DynamoDB table. The Lambda function in us-east-1 would update the DynamoDB entry for us-east-1 in both tables in both regions.

By updating a DynamoDB table in both regions, it allows the local region to gracefully handle issues with the remote region, which would otherwise prevent your ability to scale locally. If the remote region becomes inaccessible, you have a copy of the latest configuration from the table that you can use to continue to sync with your security groups. When the remote region comes back online, it pushes its updated public IP addresses to the DynamoDB table. The security group is updated to reflect the current status by the remote Lambda function.



Note: All of the following steps are performed in both regions. The Launch Stack buttons will default to the us-east-1 region.

Here’s a quick overview of the steps involved in this process:

1. An instance is launched or terminated, which triggers an Auto Scaling group lifecycle hook, triggering the Lambda function via CloudWatch Events.
2. The Lambda function retrieves the list of public IP addresses for all instances in the local region Auto Scaling group.
3. The Lambda function updates the local and remote region DynamoDB tables with the public IP addresses just received for the local Auto Scaling group.
4. The Lambda function updates the local region security group with the public IP addresses, removing and adding to ensure that it mirrors what is present for the local and remote Auto Scaling groups.
5. The Lambda function updates the remote region security group with the public IP addresses, removing and adding to ensure that it mirrors what is present for the local and remote Auto Scaling groups.


To deploy this solution, you need to have Auto Scaling groups, launch configurations, and a base security group in both regions. To expedite this process, this CloudFormation template can be launched in both regions.

Step 1: Launch the AWS SAM template in the first region

To make the deployment process easy, I’ve created an AWS Serverless Application Model (AWS SAM) template, which is a new specification that makes it easier to manage and deploy serverless applications on AWS. This template creates the following resources:

• A Lambda function, to perform the various security group actions
• A DynamoDB table, to track the state of the local and remote Auto Scaling groups
• Auto Scaling group lifecycle hooks for instance launching and terminating
• A CloudWatch event, to track the EC2 Instance-Launch Lifecycle-Action and EC2 Instance-terminate Lifecycle-Action events
• A pointer from the CloudWatch event to the Lambda function, and the necessary permissions

Download the template from here or click to launch.

Upon launching the template, you’ll be presented with a list of parameters which includes the remote/local names for your Auto Scaling Groups, AWS region, Security Group IDs, DynamoDB table names, as well as where the code for the Lambda function is located. Because this is the first region you’re launching the stack in, fill out all the parameters except for the RemoteTable parameter as it hasn’t been created yet (you fill this in later).

Step 2: Test the local region

After the stack has finished launching, you can test the local region. Open the EC2 console and find the Auto Scaling group that was created when launching the prerequisite stack. Change the desired number of instances from 0 to 1.

For both regions, check your security group to verify that the public IP address of the instance created is now in the security group.

Local region:

Remote region:

Now, change the desired number of instances for your group back to 0 and verify that the rules are properly removed.

Local region:

Remote region:

Step 3: Launch in the remote region

When you deploy a Lambda function using CloudFormation, the Lambda zip file needs to reside in the same region you are launching the template. Once you choose your remote region, create an Amazon S3 bucket and upload the Lambda zip file there. Next, go to the remote region and launch the same SAM template as before, but make sure you update the CodeBucket and CodeKey parameters. Also, because this is the second launch, you now have all the values and can fill out all the parameters, specifically the RemoteTable value.


Step 4: Update the local region Lambda environment variable

When you originally launched the template in the local region, you didn’t have the name of the DynamoDB table for the remote region, because you hadn’t created it yet. Now that you have launched the remote template, you can perform a CloudFormation stack update on the initial SAM template. This populates the remote DynamoDB table name into the initial Lambda function’s environment variables.

In the CloudFormation console in the initial region, select the stack. Under Actions, choose Update Stack, and select the SAM template used for both regions. Under Parameters, populate the remote DynamoDB table name, as shown below. Choose Next and let the stack update complete. This updates your Lambda function and completes the setup process.


Step 5: Final testing

You now have everything fully configured and in place to trigger security group changes based on instances being added or removed to your Auto Scaling groups in both regions. Test this by changing the desired capacity of your group in both regions.

True up functionality
If an instance is manually added or removed from the Auto Scaling group, the lifecycle hooks don’t get triggered. To account for this, the Lambda function supports a “true up” functionality in which the function can be manually invoked. If you paste in the following JSON text for your test event, it kicks off the entire workflow. For added peace of mind, you can also have this function fire via a CloudWatch event with a CRON expression for nearly continuous checking.

	"detail": {
		"AutoScalingGroupName": "<your ASG name>"

Extra credit

Now that all the resources are created in both regions, go back and break down the policy to incorporate resource-level permissions for specific security groups, Auto Scaling groups, and the DynamoDB tables.

Although this post is centered around using public IP addresses for your instances, you could instead use a VPN between regions. In this case, you would still be able to use this solution to scope down the security groups to the cluster instances. However, the code would need to be modified to support private IP addresses.



At this point, you now have a mechanism in place that captures when a new instance is added to or removed from your cluster and updates the security groups in both regions. This ensures that you are locking down your infrastructure securely by allowing access only to other cluster members.

Keep in mind that this architecture (lifecycle hooks, CloudWatch event, Lambda function, and DynamoDB table) requires that the infrastructure to be deployed in both regions, to have synchronization going both ways.

Because this Lambda function is modifying security group rules, it’s important to have an audit log of what has been modified and who is modifying them. The out-of-the-box function provides logs in CloudWatch for what IP addresses are being added and removed for which ports. As these are all API calls being made, they are logged in CloudTrail and can be traced back to the IAM role that you created for your lifecycle hooks. This can provide historical data that can be used for troubleshooting or auditing purposes.

Security is paramount at AWS. We want to ensure that customers are protecting access to their resources. This solution helps you keep your security groups in both regions automatically in sync with your Auto Scaling group resources. Let us know if you have any questions or other solutions you’ve come up with!